Saturday, June 29, 2013
Sun and Shade
When I was a boy the house we lived in was on a small plot of land that backed onto the Salmo River. Between our fence and the riverbank was a small path that cut from the bridge over towards the high school. It was a popular path, particularly for daredevils on bikes because there were two small hills that made going over the path at high speed risky, therefore incredibly fun. The path's starting point was the bridge itself. Alongside the bridge roadway there were pedestrian pathways on either side. Kids going to school, on foot or on bikes, would come over the bridge and make a sharp turn onto the path and then be on their way.
Just off the beaten path, there was another, hard to see, grown over, pathway that lead down the bank beside the bridge and then turned sharply to the space under the bridge. This was a place of perpetual shade and constant cool. The freshness of the water and the damp smell of shadow made this, for me, the perfect hiding place. And, of course, for all sorts of reasons, I desperately needed sanctuary.
There, under the bridge, I felt safe, and blessedly, entirely alone. I could sit and lean back against the struts of the bridge, let my various differences envelop me, and be at peace. It was the one place where I didn't feel pressure, internal and societal, to try to be and act like someone I wasn't. Escape into difference was a relief from the constant struggle to appear a captive of the norm. In a word, I felt - safe.
Today Joe and I celebrate 44 years of living together. We have managed to carve a life out for ourselves, a life that has always been, and continues to be, one of shared journey. We still laugh. We still chat in the car on the ride home from work. We still snuggle up at night. The years haven't always been easy, some of them, those where we were learning to live with each other, were awfully loud. But each year has built, one upon the other, to make a life together.
As a boy, sitting under that bridge, I wondered, fretfully, if I would ever feel as safe in the world, out from protective cover. I couldn't know then, I wish I knew then, that one day I'd meet a man who would offer me both sun and shade - and make it such that I felt safe in both.
That's what I celebrate today.
The man who has given me 44 years of sun and shade.